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Title: The Box in the Woods
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: June 15, 2021
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.
Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.
But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.
Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.
But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.
I loved the Truly Devious series so much, so when I heard The Box in the Woods was going to be a standalone mystery, I was soooo excited! Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this fun summer read!
At the beginning of this novel, we are far far away from Ellingham Academy, and I totally loved the book for it. The summer camp feel was strong, and I loved the ’70s flashbacks that filled out the novel. It was a different place to put Stevie and her friends, and it took me back to my own summer camp days. The prose and atmosphere are so great.
And man! It was so good being back in Stevie’s head again! It was fun seeing her work through the puzzles. It was also super fun seeing Janelle, Nate, and David again (could have done with some more David for sure!) Seeing the crew together again just made me so darned happy.
I also really enjoyed exploring the small town and the new characters that came with it. Definitely an eclectic bunch. The way their stories were built off of the ’70s flashbacks and then the present scenes was super interesting to me. The clues built up really well.
But the ending kind of fell flat for me. A lot of the reveal relied on things that kind of came out of nowhere. It left me kind of dissatisfied, since I couldn’t solve the mystery with Stevie.
This was a great addition to the Truly Devious series, and a great standalone. I feel that anyone who hasn’t read the series yet could pick this one up (there are no spoilers for the trilogy) and get a feel for Johnson’s writing style. I’m holding out hope that there will be more additions to this series, since it’s so fun!
Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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